How a Nurse and a Cop Rescued Jewish Children

How a Nurse and a Cop Rescued Jewish Children

Credit:(Photo: Yad Vashem)

Suzanne and Olivier Guelat

As World War II overtook Europe, Suzanne Guelat was head nurse at Paris’ Henri Rousselle Hospital. Suzanne’s husband Olivier was an official for the French police at the Seine Police Department. While doing jobs that helped others, the couple was also raising two children of their own. But that didn’t stop them from going above and beyond when a Jewish mother and her baby daughter found themselves on the run from the Nazis and in need of shelter. The Guelats thought nothing of taking Dwojra Guy-Orzechowska and her little girl Catherine into their home.

When the Nazis continued their roundup and murder of France’s Jews in 1942, Dwojra was 23 years old, pregnant, and in deep trouble. Her parents had been deported to the death camps. Her brother, already in hiding, sent Dwojra false identity papers so that she could join him. But when Dwojra arrived at the arranged locale to get the papers, the Gestapo had followed her and arrested her on the spot.

The Nazis tortured the pregnant woman, who did not divulge any information on those who were helping her. Dwojra did admit that she was Jewish, and because of this she was imprisoned. When the time came for her to give birth, Dwojra delivered beautiful little Catherine on October 1, 1943.

Dwojra then made a strange request for a Jewish woman — she wanted to have her child baptized. The request was approved, and two months later, three Gestapo officers escorted the mother and child to the hospital’s church…where they would make their escape!

The priest in charge of the baptism made the Gestapo wait at the front doors of the church. As the fiends waited, Dwojra carried little Catherine out the back door. The priest was arrested, but the mother and child had gotten away.

Dwojra and Catherine made their way to the home of Suzanne and Olivier Guelat, who welcomed them with open arms. Suzanne provided them with food and a room to stay in, even cutting up the family’s towels for diapers. The Jewish woman and her baby spent the next three months with the Guelat family, and survived the Holocaust because of it.

That was not the only aid Suzanne and Olivier provided. Throughout the war, they opened their home to other Jews, to members of the underground French Resistance, and even to American POWs on the run from the Nazis. Suzanne was decorated for the many lives she saved. And she and her husband were also named Righteous Among the Nations for saving Dwojra and her precious daughter, Catherine.

Tags: Advocates and Allies

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